Turner syndrome affects women throughout their lives, with effects on their growth and development as well as fertility and cardiovascular health. NICHD is at the forefront of research on Turner syndrome and its effects on women’s reproductive, cardiovascular, and psychosocial health.
The Institute also is sponsoring a longitudinal study on the genetics of Turner syndrome and was instrumental in developing a clinical practice guideline that outlines lifelong care for women and girls with Turner syndrome.
NICHD’s research on Turner syndrome aims to better understand both the physical and psychosocial effects of the syndrome. Turner syndrome is relatively common, occurring in more female live births than cystic fibrosis. However, much is still not understood about the lifelong effects of Turner syndrome. Heart disease, short stature, and social aspects of sexual development are all areas in which NICHD researchers are active. Other research aims to understand the syndrome’s effects on cardiac function and insulin resistance as well as the long-term effects of therapies such as estrogen and growth hormone.
Turner syndrome affects women throughout their lives, with effects on growth and development as well as fertility and cardiovascular health. NICHD is at the forefront of research on Turner syndrome and its effects on women's reproductive, cardiovascular, and psychosocial health.
Institute research is aimed at understanding the impact of Turner syndrome during various stages of a woman's life, including as a newborn, child, adolescent, and a woman of childbearing age.
Much of this research is conducted by NICHD's Section on Women's Health within its Division of Intramural Research (DIR). A main focus is the cardiovascular effects of Turner syndrome in women. Section research has shown that malformations of cardiac veins are more common than originally thought, occurring in more than 20% of women with Turner syndrome. Research also discovered a new abnormality of the aorta, common in up to half of women with Turner syndrome. The abnormality, called elongated transverse arch of the aorta, appears to put women at risk for aortic complications. Other topics of research on women with Turner syndrome include:
- Characteristics that put these women at high risk for aortic dissection
- Comparing the effectiveness of drugs to prevent dilation of the aorta
- Psychosocial functioning (shyness, social anxiety)
- The impact of infertility, childlessness, sex-steroid effects, and altered body image on social functioning
- Hormonal and genetic aspects of gender-based differences in immunological, metabolic, and cognitive function
NICHD also supports research on Turner syndrome through the Fertility and Infertility Branch (FIB). Topics within this portfolio include:
- The impact of Turner syndrome on neurodevelopment and neural function
- Development of a new, low-cost newborn screening test for Turner syndrome to decrease the number of girls who are not diagnosed until age 10 or later
In addition, the FI Branch supports research on the genetics and epigenetics of reproduction. Much of this research has indirect implications for Turner syndrome. Topics include:
- Identifying genes important for reproductive success and mutations that compromise fertility
- Identifying genetic networks that influence reproductive development
- Understanding gametogenesis, including the role of DNA methylation
- Research on normal and premature reproductive aging
- Research on polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, and cryptorchidism
- The effects of assisted reproduction techniques on imprinting and methylation
- The consequences of inactivation of the X chromosome
- NICHD led the Turner Syndrome Consensus Study Group in hosting an international, multidisciplinary meeting on Turner syndrome in 2006. The Group published clinical practice guidelines in 2007, Care of girls and women with Turner Syndrome: A guideline of the Turner Syndrome Study Group , to help guide healthcare providers in their care of those with the syndrome.
- The National Centers for Translational Research in Reproduction and Infertility (NCTRI) (Formerly the Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction and Infertility Research [SCCPIR]) is a national network of research-based centers, supported by the FI Branch, that aims to promote interactions between basic and clinical scientists with the goal of improving reproductive health.”